JustH2Transit: scenarios help us navigate in uncertain conditions
The JustH2Transit project is creating a range of possible futures for the hydrogen transition. The launch of a multidisciplinary debate on what a justified transition to a hydrogen economy would look like inspired participants at the first scenario workshop in Tampere in January.
Nina Wessberg from VTT, who facilitated the scenario work, first introduced participants to the process of forking out possible futures. She described the forces that are trying to change the existing system. These can be found both in the wider context in which the transition is taking place and in the individual technologies and practices. They enable and constrain future changes to the system.
Once these forces have been identified, it becomes possible to assess how futures will change as the strength of these forces and the power relationships between them change.
Why does research need scenarios?
The project team had a long discussion about why scenario work is done. One value was seen in the generation of common assumptions and starting points, which will allow comparisons of the assessments made in the different work packages at the end of the project. Using scenarios as a tool, researchers are able to frame the research questions in the same way across different work packages.
Another aspect was that in order to enable discussion, it is important to create a number of different scenarios, not all of which are equally desirable.
Efficiency was also seen in considering alternative scenarios. They make it possible to assess, for example, which solutions will trigger resistance, and which are easily acceptable, even before the implementation phase.
What are the benefits of scenarios for society?
As the project is funded by the Strategic Research Council, it is expected to be able to make recommendations on what kind of future we should aim for as a nation. To make this possible, the values driving the change must also be described in a transparent way: what is desired and what is not, for what reasons. Scenarios can then help to anticipate and create futures, rather than simply reacting to what is happening at any given time.
As a result of the discussion, the research team concluded that the most secure knowledge and deepest understanding can be generated concerning the forces of change. We also need to accept that there are forces that we can influence and forces that are beyond our control.
Because of this uncertainty, none of the pictures of the future that will be created are likely to be an accurate reflection of reality. The future will be a combination of different scenarios.
The work in Tampere continued in small groups, which set out to identify the forces of change on which scenarios could be built in subsequent work. We will report on the progress and outcomes of this work through the digital channels of the project and its partners.
The JustH2Transit research consortium is funded by the Strategic Research
Council (SRC) established within the Research Council of Finland, and led by the University of Oulu. In addition to VTT, the consortium partners are LUKE, LUT University and Akordi Oy.